This week is AmeriCorps Week, a celebration of AmeriCorps and its related National Service programs. We at Lahontan Audubon are directly affect by AmeriCorps, as we have AmeriCorps VISTA members as part of our staff. For this reason, we decided to go over the history of the AmeriCorps program, and introduce our AmeriCorps VISTA members and what their tasks involve.
AmeriCorps's origins start with the Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) program. VISTA was the brainchild of President John F. Kennedy back in 1963. President Kennedy envisioned VISTA to be the domestic complement to his Peace Corps program established two years earlier. Unfortunately, Kennedy did not live to see the VISTA program be enacted, however President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the program as part of his Economic Opportunity Act in 1964.
AmeriCorps was a originally a separate program enacted by President Bill Clinton in 1993, when he created the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The goals of the CNCS were to serve as an umbrella organization managing a variety of community service programs around the country. In 1995, VISTA joined the CNCS "umbrella", and became known as AmeriCorps VISTA.
Both Diane Wong-Kone (AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer 2022) and Jennie Jones Scherbinski (AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer 2021) are proud to serve as the Development Coordinator for Lahontan Audubon Society. Since working with AmeriCorps, these ladies have worked behind the scenes to help LAS grow and continue its mission to promote bird education and bird conservation. Achievements include accounts management, grant writing, and fundraising. Some of the new projects you may see around town, such as the bird mural at Rancho San Rafael, Birding by Bus project, and new bird interpretive signs at Virginia Lake and Sparks Marina, along with email and online communications about new events would not be possible without these two!
Parker Flickinger has served as the Community Engagement & Marketing Coordinator for Lahontan Audubon Society since August of 2020. In his role, Parker has had the opportunity to build connections for our chapter both in person and virtually. Parker helped start up our YouTube Channel and our recurring monthly photo contest. As a AmeriCorps VISTA member, his goal is to educate the public about birding and bird conservation. Parker says he truly admires all the diverse people he has had the privilege of working with, from local students to the local news channel. His goals are to teach other people of birding and bird conservation at the local level. Some of his achievements include taking a group of beginner birders on the Christmas Bird Count and leading an auditory-based bird walk with the local chapter of National Federation of the Blind.
Click below to learn more about AmeriCorps and how you can serve your country through the program: